Washington Capitals vs. Tampa Bay Lightning: 3 takeaways from Game 1
May 13, 2018, 14:24
The Vegas Golden Knights, in their first-ever season, have made it to the conference finals.
But instead of resting on the accomplishment and acting like "second-round champions", the Capitals played like a team with designs on the Stanley Cup in a 4-2 trouncing of Tampa in Game 1 of the East finals on Friday night.
The Lightning are confident they'll play better in front of him in Game 2.
Almost seven minutes through the second, the Capitals scored its second power-play goal off an Eller rebound, taking a 4-0 lead. The Tampa Bay Lighting have allowed three or more goals in five of their last 10 games. "We didn't give them much", said Ovechkin, who is playing in the first Conference finals of his storied career. Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury has been on top of his game through the first two rounds, and he has gotten plenty of support from Jonathan Marchessault, Reilly Smith and Colin Miller. By the end of 40 minutes, the Caps were up 4-0.
Washington found openings, in large part, because of Ovechkin. Tampa Bay respects its opponent.
"Well, it's just a response", said Lightning captain Steven Stamkos. The Caps didn't hold any practice on Saturday, but head coach Barry Trotz told the media that Backstrom has been working out off-ice. He's also in Tampa and watched Game 1 at Amalie Arena. "They want to see plays, they want to see goals and good saves". "Everybody plays five-on-five, zone, so we need to be a two-way player, but you know we will see".
Without Backstrom, the Capitals turned to third-line center Lars Eller to fill in. They couldn't control starting this series on the road, nor the rest the Lightning had before Game 1. Tampa came out and stole the momentum from the Capitals in the third period. But the chance was created by Ovechkin, who shot a one-timer that deflected over to T.J. Oshie and then to Eller.
That being said, the Lightning don't necessarily expect that they will be able to roll over the Capitals just because they did the same against the Bruins. Ondrej Palat went end-to-end for an even-strength goal with just under seven minutes to play.
And while Sergachev may revere Ovechkin, his game may more closely resemble another of the Capitals' Russian players: Dmitry Orlov, who is one of the NHL's best at his position among his countrymen and an example of what it takes to capitalize as an offensive defenseman.
Sergachev made his National Hockey League debut last season with the Montreal Canadiens, playing in four games before returning to the junior-club level for further development. The offense and power play are humming.
Need more proof? The Caps are finally getting bounces to go their way. Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy was pulled after surrendered four goals on 25 shots. The Capitals were relentless going after the puck and it paid off big time for them.
The NHL has not announced an official start date to the Stanley Cup Final, but a look at the conference final schedules allows an estimate of when the championship series is likely to start.
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